December 23, 2009
And now, for the top three songs of the decade.
The first track off of Arcade Fire’s debut album Funeral, also the first of the four part “neighborhood” saga, is a dreamy track about a snowed-in neighborhood free of parental supervision. Tunnels kicks off one of the best, if not the best, albums of the decade, starts of with a wandering piano, painting a vivid picture of a snowbound town: “And if the snow buries my/My neighborhood/And if my parents are crying/Then I’ll dig a tunnel/From my window to yours/ Yeah, a tunnel from my window to yours”.Â Behind a heavy bass drum (hinting at things to come on Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) and the album closer Rebellion (Lies) later on the album) and an impressive collection of instruments (Arcade Fire is after all a band of 9-10 people), the song builds towards an impressive and frantic climax just a few seconds from the end of the song.Â The song works well as an opener (feeding later songs and setting the tone for some of the themes off the rest of the album), but it’s also remarkably successful as a single and is an exceptional piece of rock music.
Rarely does a song capture so much of both the rap and rock crowds, but “Hey Ya” did that better than just about any other track in my lifetime.Â Honestly, few songs fill a dance floor faster than this song and few songs have more memorable lines.Â Musically, the song is brilliant: it’s a unique beat, with superb lyrics and delivery.Â Â But really, it’s just that this song is just about the most original and most fun song that came out this decade (save for maybe Outkast’s “Bombs Over Baghdad”).Â Because let’s face it: If you clicked the link and watched the video, you’re going to have this song stuck in your head all day. Whether it’s “What’s cooler than being cool” or “shake it like a Polaroid picture”, this song delivers some of the most memorable lines of the decade.Â Plus, it gave us one of this amusing acoustic cover from Scrubs.
No surprise here, if you know my tastes.Â I’ve been hooked on this song since the first time I heard it nearly three years ago.Â The wobbly piano guides a song about the pre-party build up, the party, the post-party, and dealing with growing up.Â It’s a simple beat, that basically doesn’t really change throughout the 7:21 seconds of this song.Â But this song is about the lyrics: they are clever and brilliant and they drive the song from the start to finish.Â James Murphy’s near-spoken delivery is pensive and uplifting.Â Even the throwaway lines are gold: “It comes apart/The way it does in bad films/Except in parts/When the moral kicks in”.Â But by the end of the song, you can’t help but feel better.Â “And with a face like a dad and a laughable stand,/you can sleep on the plane or review what you said./When you’re drunk and the kids look impossibly tan/you think over and over, ‘hey, I’m finally dead./Oh, if the trip and the plan come apart in your hand/you look contorted on yourself your ridiculous prop./You forgot what you meant when you read what you said/And you always knew you were tired, but then/Where are your friends tonight?”
December 21, 2009
On Sunday I saw Jersey Boys on Broadway. I’ve managed to avoid getting a song stuck in my head. I figured some Four Seasons would make for a good song to post today. Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot on YouTube. It’s like the internet didn’t even exist back then. I wanted to post Stay, I think that’s my 2nd favorite (behind Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You). I settled on Sherry. You can’t top a YouTube music clip that is a video of a turntable.
December 21, 2009
Note: For Part 1, see here.
Who would have predicted that Justin Timberlake would not only be relevant by the end of the first decade of the 2000s, but would have released some of the best pure pop music of the last 10 years?Â SexyBack, from Timberlake’s second solo release, marked JT’s best chart performance to date, spending 7 weeks atop the Billboard Top 100.Â More importantly, this Timberland-produced track was just pop gold: you couldn’t escape the song for nigh two years, and somehow, everybody was still OK with that.
Rarely does a NY Times review of something stick with me for so long, but I remember reading the review for Hot Chip’s The Warning, which came complete with praise for “Ready for the Floor”.Â I cannot find the link/article (ugh), but it was something like “It’s so catchy, it’s so confident, it’s so gay, and it’s your new favorite song” (The “Gay” comment comes from the fact that one of the most prominent lines in the song is “You’re my number one guy”).Â And that’s really what this track is all about: the perfect combination of clever and memorable lyrics and a catchy and unflappable beat to which you can’t help but nod your head.
Before starting this list, I decided that I would only choose one song per artist (this will come up again later); otherwise, I could have a number of Radiohead songs on this list.Â They put out four albums this decade, culminating with In Rainbows in late 2007.Â But the decade started with Kid A (Which claimed the number 1 spot on many a list for album of this decade), with it’s spacey electric sound.Â Idioteque, easily the most energetic song off of that album, also marks perhaps the high point of that album.Â The song itself seems like an urgent plea from Thom Yorke, for action on some sort of crisis (“We’re not scaremongering/This is really happening”).Â Â It marks one of the most ambitious (and ultimately successful) songs for a remarkably ambitious band (Musically, Radiohead is probably the most ambitious mainstream act out there).Â Idioteque is the kind of song that creates that all-too-rare convergence of music snobs and mainstream rock fans.
Aside from spawning one of the best rap songs of the latter part of this decade (“Swagga Like Us”, by T.I. F/ Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne), Paper Planes is just a brilliant and bold piece of pop music.Â Need proof? The song builds itself a successful chorus by somehow making a combination of gunshots, a cash register, and children singing and actually makes it work.Â That alone is worth recognition.Â This song truly feels like a product of the world (not least because M.I.A. is an ethnic Tamil from London) and therefore deserves some recognition as product of the globalized era.
One of the hardest decisions for this list was which Kanye West song to put on here.Â Say what you will about the guy as a person, but the guy has put out more hits this decade than just about anyone else.Â “Diamonds Are From Sierra Leone”, to me, is just pure, vintage Kanye West.Â The beat is one of the coolest of any rap songs of the decade and Kanye is on point with his lyrics for the entire song.Â This song feels like Kanye’s realization of his own weight in the music industry: from the opener (“And I’ve realized that I’ve arrived, cos/It take more than a magazine to kill my vibe”)Â to the closing line (“R-r-r-right here stands a man,/With the power to make a diamond with his bare hands”), the song brilliantly captures the meteoric rise of Mr. West.Â Oh, and need further proof of Kanye’s cockiness? The dude has the balls to go with a 90-second 2nd verse and the flow to pull it off without flinching.
December 18, 2009
So a couple weeks ago, I started working through my iTunes collection and building a CD-length playlist featuring my personal picks for the best songs of the decade.Â Now, I did this because 1. I listen to a crazy amount of music and 2. I got a new MacBook Pro and was able to have a laptop that didn’t die after 10 minutes of use.Â Woo! Technology!
First the criteria: I started out thinking that I would have set criteria.Â This didn’t really work out, because, frankly, I’m not that rigid and this isn’t work.Â At work, I have to adhere to criteria and to be objective…On music, not so much, because it’s ALL subjective.Â So this list is composed of songs judged on some loose criteria, including general enjoyability, longevity, uniqueness, innovation, and musical quality.Â Also, the first step to making the list is that I actually have to LIKE the song.Â So, I know there is a lot of music out there that I don’t love, and those songs aren’t on that list (Though I do have a broad taste, as you will see from this list).
I’m gonna do this is four parts.Â Three posts of five unordered songs, and then a final post with what I have judged to be the best 3 songs of the decade.Â Without further ado, I’m going to present to you the first five of my choices.
If you are familiar with my music taste, as some of you are, you’ll know that I am a huge Killers fan.Â Some people didn’t like Sam’s Town and more people didn’t like Day & Age…I’ve loved all of it.Â But it all started with Hot Fuss and Somebody Told Me (which did come out before the slightly over-rated Mr. Brightside…I looked).Â But this song, with it’s roaring guitar opening, driving beat, and slightly lo-fi vocals is an infectious piece of pop-rock music (and it even features the crowd-pleasing Wooho-Woooo in the bridge).Â This song was a powerful debut that catapulted the Killers to being undeniably one of the biggest bands of the decade.
Fleet Foxes quietly rolled out one of the best albums of the decade with their self-titled debut in 2008…And by quietly, I only mean literally, because this album rightly got a lot of hype after coming out (It was Pitchfork’s album of the year after all).Â And the finest work off of that album may be the shortest track.Â At just under two and a half minutes (and with just about 7 lines of lyrics), Fleet Foxes kick the song off in almost a round and then manage to turn in one of the finest vocal harmonies you’ll ever here in modern pop music.Â The lyrics themselves are almost inconsequential, almost as if they are just another instrument in this intricate and masterful track.
While intricate harmonies and mellowness that make White Winter Hymnal a fantastic song, Wolf Like Me takes the exact opposite approach.Â After just a few seconds of guitar intro,Â the heavy bass and drum combo take over from there, driving this song at full speed for most of the next 4 minutes and 30 seconds.Â This song–ostensibly about werewolves, but tooootally pre-twilight–thrives on pure intensity.Â Even as the bridge tries to slow you down, you can feel that the bass is going to bring back the fever pitch.Â And from there, the frenzy just takes over: “Hey hey my playmate/Let me lay waste to thee/ Burned down their hanging trees/ It’s hot here hot here hot here hot here”.
It was perhaps the decade of mash-up music.Â And perhaps the finest example (other than perhaps the entire Feed the Animals Album from Girltalk) comes in this unique pairing of Jay-Z’sÂ “Change Clothes” with the Beatles’ “Piggies” and “Dear Prudence”.Â As this song kicks off with the meandering guitar and Jay-Z shouts, you can feel that something special is about to follow…not something derivative of Jay-Z or the Beatles, but a piece of music that is a completely new and unique piece of music.Â Plus, there’s something that’s undeniably fun about Pharrell chanting “sexy, sexy” over the jaunty guitar.
The National’s 2007 release Boxer strikes me as another of the finest albums of this decade (honestly, who says the album is a dead format).Â And though songs like “Mistaken for Strangers” or “Fake Empire” are more hyped (and fantastic in their own right), “Guest Room” is a song that captures the album’s angst and unease perhaps better than any other track on this collection of songs about the pains of adulthood. The combination of Matt Berninger’s baritone lyrics (“We miss being ruffians/going wild and bright/in the corners of front yards/getting in and out of cars/we miss being deviants”) and the snare make this song a simple, yet fantastic piece of song-smithing.
December 17, 2009
Motion City Soundtrack – Her Words Destroyed My Planet – Song is embedded on this tumblr page. It grabbed my attention with the Veronica Mars line and kept it with the rest of the song. New album Jan 19th. I’m gonna say it’s a buy.
We Are The In Crowd – It sounds like Haley from Paramore paired with a male lead singer. You can’t argue with that. Try. You can’t.
STAY – Maddie kthx – I link to this video because I hear potential in this band. I’m not a huge fan of the song, although with enough listens it might stick.
December 17, 2009
December 6, 2009
Punchline: Night Lights – Donate $6 and you get this album of unreleased songs. I saw Pretty Petty, Changing Lanes, and a bunch of acoustic versions and I didn’t hesitate. A quick listen to a few of the tracks and I’m in love with the acoustic version of Don’t Try This At Home. I couldn’t find a version on YouTube to do it justice. You need a clean version, not a cell phone camera version.
Gregory James – Posted a few songs from his new EP. Girl Next Door is pretty catchy. The EP is called Pop Rocks and Flip Flops. Honestly, that sets the catchy bar pretty high.
Ben Hammond – He has an EP coming out in January, that one’s called Garden Statement. 151 is the song I checked out that merited a link here.
I found this montage set to Punchline’s Pretty Petty …
December 6, 2009
If you can’t tell, I’m catching up on my AbsolutePunk feed. Here is a new Lostprophets video. This song caught my ear. I don’t really listen to them all that often. One or two songs are in my regular playlist. I mention that to point out that I’m not a huge fan just sharing anything new I hear.
December 6, 2009
I’ve noticed a lot of punk bands covering Miley Cryus and Taylor Swift songs. This one is a Miley cover by Life on Repeat. At first I thought it was just a straight up cover, but then they turn it into a heavier rock song. It actually sounds pretty good. Swear.
December 2, 2009
I don’t think I’ve ever been more hooked on Sirius Hits 1 than I am right now. It’s a combination of being down on the new Alt Nation songs and a whole bunch of Hits 1 songs getting stuck in my head. Just look at my recent music posts, that’s not like me. Anyway here’s Drake. Forever mein. Ever mein. Ever mein. (I wasn’t really sure how to spell it like he says it.)
November 29, 2009
This doesn’t have anything to do with anything. It doesn’t apply to the current people suck mood. But one of the bands I thought to look for some good ones was Reel Big Fish. This is the most upbeat I Hate You song. This song can’t help but make you feel better, no matter what the situation. I should have this as my alarm to wake up to in the morning.
It feels so good to say goodbye, when with you I wanna die.